Teacher Uses 75% of His Paycheck to Become Debt-Free

More often than not, people of the internetwebs are sad, depressed, and uninspiring. Those adjectives, however, do not describe the couple you’re about to meet.

Credit: Hoyt Family

Credit: Hoyt Family via CNBC

Bobby Hoyt and his wife, Coral, are a different breed.  They’re the type of couple that likes to keep it real with themselves when it comes their personal finances.  That personality dynamic is why they decided in 2012 to become a debt-free family.  Don’t take that lightly though because that decision came with plenty of sacrifices.

To become debt-free, that meant the Hoyts had to vanquish $40,000 worth of student loans.  As school teachers with school teacher salaries, that was a heavy load for them to lift.  Fortunately, they quickly learned how to lighten their load.

Whether it was renting from the in-laws to driving an old clunker to wearing old clothes, they got rid of as many unnecessary expenses as possible.  At their peak, they were putting 75% of Bobby’s salary towards student loan payments.  And that’s pretending as if taxes didn’t negate a huge chuck of his gross pay during that time.

At the end of the day, the young millennial couple ended up paying off the $40,000 in a whopping 18 months.  Now that the debt is completely gone, Bobby quit being a teacher and has become a full-time blogger.

So the next time you’re feeling hopeless, just remember: if two young school teachers can change the trajectory of their lives, then you can too.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

NYC Wife Shocked by Husband’s 401(k) Balance

I recently ran across an article about the couple below that left me completely irritated about millennial marriages and marriages in general when it comes to financial communication.

business-insider-article

The highly attractive couple shown here were recently featured in Business Insider via Yahoo Finance.  In the feature, the wife recounted the time she realized that her husband saves a much higher percentage of his individual income than she does her individual income—three times higher to be exact.

After coming to this realization, she finally gets her bearings and decides that she will up her 2 percent retirement contributions to 8 percent with the eventual hope of reaching the 12 percent milestone that her husband is currently at.

This may seem like the end of the story and a happy ending, but I can’t help but wonder why her husband was so oblivious to this massive miscommunication problem as it relates to their long-term financial future.

Other than purchasing a house (the reason for his wife’s great discovery happened), the husband in this relationship has done nothing to truly unite himself with his wife.  He’s done nothing to visibly prepare his marriage to last the long haul, at least in terms of finances.

Given that the number one reason for divorce in North America today is money fights and money problems, I hope this couple really improves their financial communication.  As a fellow millennial, I want their marriage to thrive financially.  Not just for the wealth, but for the dreams.

As a world-famous John Maxwell says, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

How Long-Distance Couples Decide Who Has to Quit

Long-distance emotional stress affects military spouses or newly married spouses quite often.   It also affects couples who have a spouse that has received a dream job offer in a distant city.   If you and your spouse work with employers that are hundreds and thousands of miles apart, then you have a pretty arduous decision ahead of you: determining which one of you has to quit.

This can be very difficult because both spouses may love their jobs; however, spouses need to love each other more than their jobs.  Firstly, seek to see if you can just transfer within your current company.  Secondly, if this is not possible or takes too much lead-time, then you will have to quit.  This does not have to be an immediate resignation, but you definitely need to get the ball rolling in that direction.

It’s been a while, but my wife and I have been in those shoes.  When we got married 5 years ago, I ended up being the spouse that moved.  That certainly wasn’t the only option we had, but it ended up being the best option for us long-term.

Have you and your spouse ever been in this situation?

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or at AL.com here.

Kissing

Originally posted on my LinkedIn back in August 2015.

Delayed Gratification is not Set in Stone

More often than not, delayed gratification is viewed as a four-letter word that means permanent denial of happiness.  That’s not a healthy definition or an accurate definition as delayed gratification is actually a temporary experience.  If it lasts forever, then it’s not delayed gratification.  That being said, it’s not hard to see why delayed gratification or healthy discipline gets a bad rap.

Hebrews 12:11

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There are multiple applications for this verse: financial discipline, sexual discipline, athletic discipline, educational discipline, and etc.  If we want to be successful in any area of our lives, it will require some level of discipline.  There’s no way around it.

Fortunately, it becomes easier to live out Hebrews 12:11 if we don’t put all of our focus on the first sentence of the verse.  We get so caught up in the pain of discipline that we overlook the harvest of righteousness and peace.  Simply correcting that shortsightedness will change our lives forever.

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter. Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

Delayed Gratification

4 Types of Spouses That Will Ruin Your Finances

It is probably no secret that selecting a spouse is a serious decision.  The wrong spouse can be a nightmare for years to come.  Our personal finances are not immune to the negative effects of a poor spousal decision.  Below are just a few personality types that we might want to avoid if we ever want to get outside the habit of living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Guy Who Drives HER Car Around While She’s at Work

He is every parent’s worst nightmare; however, he seems like a dream to his unlucky lover.  He almost never has a job, but he supposedly makes up for that by dropping his lady off at work and picking her back up at the end of her shift.

He gets extra points for triflingness if he sits in her employer’s parking lot all day until she gets off work.

Guy Who Lacks Awareness of His Economic Potential

He’s actually a half-decent guy, but he never quite realizes that he could make double or triple his income by simply applying himself more often.  He always settles for “good enough” even if he is barely making ends meet.  And if he has a big income already, he has no savings to show for it.  He might make a great friend, but he makes a horrible husband.

Girl Whose Favorite Phrase is “But It’s on Sale!”

Watch out for her.   She makes every purchase seem like an innocent ordeal, but in reality she has a hyper-consumerism problem.  She couldn’t hold water if she were a kettle.  Again, stay away from her.

She may one day learn from her errors, but it will be after she files bankruptcy for the 2nd time.

Girl Who Always Chats About What Her Friends Just Bought

While she will make it sound like idle chatter, it’s not.  Her words are really a warning sign that she will forever be jealous of her family and friends.  No amount of shopping trips and car purchases will ever quench her thirst.  She will never be happy because someone will always have something better than she has.

Follow Ben on Twitter at @Ben_Baxter.

Sits in Car

5 Tips for Full-Time Workers Who Go Back to School

Grad SchoolBeing a student—whether in high school, college, or grad school—can be challenging.  It can be even more challenging if concurrent full-time employment is involved.  And furthermore challenging if marriage and parenthood is involved.  However, even with all of those challenges, reaching your goal of gaining more education is still achievable—you just need a few tips to get you over the hump.

(1) Move to 2nd or 3rd Shift

Maybe don’t do this forever, but definitely try it while you are in school.  I have worked with several people who have done this, and it made taking traditional classes a lot more feasible.  Also, most people who work on off shifts get paid a little more than their dayshift counterparts because of the perceived inconvenience.  One man’s inconvenience is another man’s treasure.

(2) Take Online Classes or Weekend/Evening Classes

If you’re pretty much stuck on dayshift or irregular shifts, try taking online courses or weekend/evening courses.  Not only does this potentially give you more flexibility, it also keeps your employer from getting annoyed with all of the personal time off (PTO) you are using to attend classes during traditional daytime hours.

(3) Make the Most of Downtime

Do you have a 10 minute work break? Write flashcards.  Do you take a 60 minute lunch period? Read your textbook.  Is your baby asleep? Start a term paper.  Did your husband go to the home improvement store? Take a practice test.  Downtime is precious.  If you notice that you have some, make the most of it.

(4) Become a 7 Year Senior

Streeeeeeeetch out your time in school.  If you have a pretty decent job and can pay the bills, slow your academic pace so that you can spend more time with your family and friends.  Being able to socialize and stay connected may help the grunts of hard work be a little easier to bare.

(5) Utilize Employer Tuition Reimbursements

With the stress of working a job and going to school, money is the last thing many people want to worry about.  That’s why it’s good to check to see if your employer offers tuition assistance.  This will greatly decrease your financial burden and may help you sleep easier at night.  Better sleeping equals better reaping.

What are some other success tips not listed?

Top 5 Reasons to Quit Your Job (and Yet Remain Employable)

Photo: http://janeencarlberglaw.com/

Photo: http://janeencarlberglaw.com/

If you have followed my career at all, you are well aware that I have been around the block a few times when it comes to employers.  Most of that has to do with the short-term and long-term repercussions of changing careers two years after college because of the M-word—marriage (which I thoroughly enjoy, by the way).

This career change has taught me a lot about recruiting, interviewing, vetting, and networking.  But it has also taught me a whole lot about quitting.  Fancier people may call it “resigning” or “seeking new opportunities,” but regardless, there is an art and science to being able to quit without it being seen as a negative attribute on your resume.  So without further ado, here are the top 5 most acceptable and commendable reasons to quit your current job.

(1) Unethical and Unsafe Work Environment

This is my number one because it has the biggest impact on your future employment.   If you are with an employer that does not truthfully prohibit unethical and unsafe characteristics then you will probably be hurt more by staying than if you quit.  Please turn in your two-week notice immediately if your boss or a significant portion of management are guilty of doing or accepting the following:

  • lying to customers and suppliers
  • using sexual or suggestive language
  • touching coworkers sexually or inappropriately
  • drinking alcohol or doing drugs on the job
  • consistently paying workers late or not paying at all
  • making racist comments or jokes
  • letting jealousy and anger affect decision-making
  • endangering workers with poor safety practices or no safety practices
  • doing other inappropriate behavior

(2) Becoming a Stay-at-Home Parent

This is a very tough (or very easy) decision for many families to make.  If this decision is something you and your spouse are going through currently, then please do not be pressured into feeling you have to work outside the home to be a fully developed human being.  Being a stay-at-home parent is perfectly acceptable as long as you can pay your bills on-time and not accumulate debts.

In order to prepare for this season in life, try living on only one income for 3 months while you are still working.  If you succeed at this task, then go ahead and let your employer know your family’s decision for you to become a stay-at-home parent.  And again, please do not feel pressured into staying at work.  And please, only come back to work when you want to come back to work.

(3) Spouse Works Significantly Far Away

Often this affects newly married couples and military couples the most.   It also affects couples who have a spouse that has received a dream job offer in a distant city.   If you and your spouse work with employers that are hundreds and thousands of miles apart, then you have a pretty arduous decision ahead of you: determining which one of you has to quit.

This can be very difficult because both spouses may love their jobs; however, spouses need to love each other more than their jobs.  Firstly, seek to see if you can just transfer within your current company.  Secondly, if this is not possible or takes too much lead-time, then you will have to quit.  This does not have to be an immediate resignation, but you definitely need to get the ball rolling in that direction.

(4) Becoming an Entrepreneur

Do not do this on a whim.  Only do this if your hobby or “side hustle” has become lucrative enough that you can afford to quit your day job.  The romanticism of being a business owner fades quickly if you cannot put food on your dinner table.  However, if your business is capable of paying you similarly to or more than what you are making currently, then by all means, quit!

Careful: Just be sure not to burn any bridges with your current employer. You may need them to hire you back in the future if your business flops.

(5) Seeking More Pay or More Opportunity

Sometimes you reach the proverbial glass ceiling.  Many large companies do not give pay increases very often, or they give pay increases yearly but at a 1% or 2% rate.  Meanwhile, many smaller companies only have a handful of employees so opportunities for promotion are pretty slim.  In order to grow and reach your potential, you are going to have to quit.  However, make sure you have a new job first!

Depending on the situation, some people may call you greedy for making a move.  Take their opinion with a grain of salt though—while your mentors may have your best interest at heart, other people may just be green-eyed with envy.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER VALID REASONS TO QUIT BESIDES THESE?

Are You Really the Luckiest Woman in the World?

I see it every single day. Someone gets a pretty sweet gift and proclaims, “I am the luckiest woman in the world for getting gift x!!!” Sure, we are elated to get gifts and surprises and may be slightly hyperbolic when we get these things. But is there any truth to the claims? I have decided to put some of these claims under the scrutiny of data and see if you really have a claim to being the luckiest woman in the world.

(Please keep in mind this is a tongue-in-cheek piece. I am sure everything about you is simply splendid. Do your thing, girl.)

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such a great job.

Doctor Claire

According to Forbes, the happiest job for a woman (factoring in salary, job growth, and job satisfaction) is a diagnostic medical doctor. The median income for this job is $121,000 and has an estimated job growth of 27% through 2020. Pretty sweet gig.

So how many women are doctors? There are approximately 202,000 female doctors in the United States. Out of those, only 11,000 earn in the top 10% ($233,000) of doctors. These salaries are based off of a general practitioner.

Conclusion: Unless you are a doctor earning in excess of $233,000, you do not have a valid claim.

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world because my kids are so amazing.

Gregory Smith could read by 2, enrolled in college by 10, is a children’s rights activist, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize at the tender age of 12.

Michael Kearney graduated college at 10, was a teacher at age 17, spoke his first words at 4 months, was once the youngest post graduate, diagnosed his own ear infection at the age of six months, and is a millionaire.

Alexis Martin was one of the youngest people to ever be accepted into Mensa, at the age of 3. She has the same IQ as Stepehn Hawking and Albert Einstein.

And just for good measure, literally everyone on this list:

http://www.thebestschools.org/features/worlds-50-smartest-teenagers/

Conclusion: Are one of these kids yours? Claim invalid.

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world because I am married to the most handsome man  in the world.

Omar Borkan Al Gala was deported from his country because he was so handsome, officials thought he would give women immoral thoughts. Hold on, I am going to re-type something: HE WAS DEPORTED FROM A COUNTRY FOR BEING TOO FUCKING HOT.

Ok, just wanted everyone to be clear on that.

Conclusion: Your husband is not Omar Borkan Al Gala

Omar Borkan Al Gala...Deported From Saudi Arabia 4 Being To Handsome (Panties Drop)

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world because my husband is the smartest man alive

This is easy. Is your husband Stephen Hawking (160 IQ), Christopher Langan (205) , Kim Ung-Yong (210), Paul Allen (170), Rick Rosner (192), Gary Kasparov (190), Andrew Wiles (170), Judit Polgar (for you ladies who love the ladies, 170), Christopher Hirata (225), Terrance Tao (230), or Evangelos Katsioulis (198)?

Only 0.5% of the population have an IQ over 140.

Conclusion: Probably not.

Claim: I got diamonds. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

In 1905 a man named Frederick Wells discovered a rough diamond that was 3,106 carats. Named the Cullinan, it was later cut into 100 smaller diamonds. The largest of those being 530 carats.

Actual-size replica of Cullinan Diamond.

Actual size replica of the Cullinan

In 2012, the Taj Mahal diamond sold for 8.8 million dollars.

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond sold for $265,697 per carat and 8.8 million for the whole stone.

The total amount that Elizabeth Taylor jewelry collection sold for was 137.2 million dollars.

Conclusion: You do not have any of these diamonds.

Regardless of what I say, having happiness and love makes all of us the luckiest people on earth.

Never Leave Kids an Inheritance

Please let me clarify before you start calling me a cold-hearted jerk.  As long as children are still dependents, then I believe parents should do everything in their power to perpetually provide for their spouse and children from the grave—hefty term life insurance and thoughtful savings invested into a good mutual fund (an endowment per se).  Whether the children are 2 years old or 17 years old, that is my firm stance.

However! The average age of death is roughly 75 years old, and parents are typically 20-30 years older than their descendants.  So in this example, the “children” are between 45 to 55 years old.  Suffice it to say, it is fairly disingenuous to call someone who might have grandchildren a “child.”  For that very reason, I wouldn’t give my children anything if I make it into my twilight years.

Yep, I would leave my “children” absolutely nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Natta.  Zero.

But what are a few reasons why I would do this?

(1) Proverbs 22:6 | “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  As a result, I do not worry about my future adult children.  I trust them to do well (better than well) because that is what Baxters do—pray hard, love hard, and work hard.  Because of early guidance and early monetary investment, our children will be far more successful than we could have ever imagined them to be.

(2) Actual Children | The amount of actual young children, orphans especially, who could benefit from the death of an old geezer is almost endless.

(3) Other Elderly People | There are so many widows, widowers, and otherwise disabled elderly who could really use a leg-up from a person who knows (or knew) exactly how they feel.

(4) Worthwhile Charities | Do you know who usually leaves big gobs of money for shelters that take care of battered women? Usually old dead people.  What about animal shelters? Again, old dead people. How about full ride academic scholarships? Once again, old dead people.  With all that good going around, why wouldn’t I want to be an awesome dead person too?

What about you? In an ideal world, would you give all your money to your kids?

Retirement

PS: All of this assumes that I do not have a successful business that my children could potentially become owners of one day. In that case, a succession plan is necessary so that that transition is a smooth one and not a train wreck.  However, since successful businesses are statistically improbable, I am assuming I just have a regular job that I have retired from.

Which In-Laws Should You Live Closest To?

This was a big hump to get over when my wife and I were engaged and getting married.  And I’m sure this discussion has caused a lot of heartburn for other couples as well—new relationships or old reliables.  Although you are not extrinsically valuing one set of in-laws over the other (or one spouse’s career over the other), intrinsically it tends to feel that way during the heat of battle… I mean… discussion.  But maybe this decision can get easier!

A few years ago, National Institutes of Health performed a 26-year longitudinal study that showed when a husband reported having a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce decreased by 20%.  Conversely, when a wife reported having a close relationship with her husband’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce increased by 20%.

I’m not a marriage expert by any means, but if I wanted to statistically safeguard a friend’s marriage, I would automatically tell him to submit and figure out a way to live near his wife’s parents.  There is a lot of benefit from a husband modeling what humbleness and submission looks like.

This will not solve all your marriage problems (you’ll have plenty).  But maybe it will help a little.

Do you agree? Should you live near your wife’s parents as a rule of thumb?

In-Laws